Wednesday, September 01, 2004
I've been thinking and praying lately, and some things have been coming to mind. Incidentally, I apologize to anyone who's been coming to this site in hopes of finding more than self-absorbed ramblings of a grad student, and were hoping instead for more Theological Forays or things like that. Maybe I'll get back to those at one point, but at the moment, I'm a grad student who is quite often self-absorbed, and what I've been considering lately is more how to apply God's word to my life and less how to examine the doctrine itself.
When I came across a devotion in Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest on yielding to God, it started this whole line of thought. His big point was that instead of seeking to be active and asking God to bless our endeavors, we should instead be willing tools of God. God is not our co-pilot, someone to take over when we need a break or can't do something ourselves. HE IS the force that created and sustains the universe. He created us, and knows far better how to fulfill us than we ever could. Our mistake comes in thinking that we can muddle through on our own. We look at ourselves, whether we're smart, funny, popular, good-looking, rich, athletic, kind, or whatever we may see as our strengths, and we try and take on the world with those. However, the old line about how "to a hammer, everything looks like a nail" is appropriate. God can't use us properly if we're trying to use ourselves to do something other than God's will. Very often, what we perceive as our greatest strengths are really our greatest weaknesses, and what we think are the things that most keep us down are those things which make us effective tools.
I look at myself, and I'm proud (not necessarily in a good way) of many of the things that are true of me. I was raised in Northern Virginia, where I can lay claim to some Southern-ness but still speak without a huge accent. I'm Episcopalian, which is more-or-less the aristocracy of Christianity in America. I'm proud of my lineage, knowing that I have neither nazis nor slaveholders in there, and that very many of my ancestors died in war. I received a good education, go to a fine university, and am often considered smart (I think people are confusing "smart" with "well-educated," which isn't the same thing). Now, did I actually create any of these things myself? One could argue for the Episcopalian and Virginia Tech things, but those are more products of me being from a middle-class family in Northern Virginia than anything else. Nonetheless, it's easy for me to become prideful, and so one way I deal with fear, anger, frustration, and the like is to act, well, snobby. Sometimes it's a conscious decision; more often it's not. I don't think that I actually am snobby, but I think I may perceived that way, and so it's an easy stereotype to crawl into and defend from when I'm feeling attacked.
These things that I mentioned above as seeming strengths are clearly weaknesses on my part. For most or all of them, I could easily find major downsides to them (being Episcopalian right now, for example). And thinking about that jogged my mind on something else. I think that, too often (which is ever), we as Christians yield areas of our life, consider ourselves to be good people, and retain areas of ourself where we want God to do our will. In effect, we're bargaining, saying "Lord, if I do all these things, then I've got this one small favor I'd like..." It doesn't work that way, and I suspect that God may specially refuse to grant that request. Whether it's the desire for a girlfriend (I'm a guy; girls reading this may feel free to substitute "boyfriend"), wanting to get a good promotion or job, or simply wanting people to appreciate what you're doing, the area you refuse to surrender is the area which God will beseige and Satan will send defenders. To truly be cleansed and useful, and to be fulfilled, we must sacrifice our entire selves to Christ. So long as you allow that one cancerous part of you to remain, your whole body is vulnerable.